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Act To Prevent Pollution from Ships Whistleblower Reward Program

Maritime Whistleblower Attorneys

The Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships Whistleblower Reward Program: Blowing the Whistle on Maritime Wrongs and Potentially Getting a Reward 

One of the most effective tools to uncover and prevent maritime pollution is the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships (APPS). APPS is a federal law enacted to implement the provisions of the International Convention for the Prevention of the Pollution from Ships treaty, which is also known as MARPOL. APPS includes a key whistleblower provision that permits federal courts to grant rewards up to 50% of total collected fines to whistleblowers whose disclosures regarding pollution on the high seas result in a successful prosecution.

The number one enforcer of MARPOL globally is U.S. law enforcement, thanks to a particular provision included within the APPS. Activities like dumping illegal discharge into oceans often happen away from observers; as such, crew members aboard these ships provide crucial information about violations and lead successful prosecutions for those crimes through their role as whistleblowers. Whistleblowers play a vital role in alerting authorities of breaches to the APPS and providing information that leads to successful prosecutions.

Contact our maritime whistleblower lawyers at Whistleblowers International by dialing (800) 689-8552 or via our online contact form.

Protections and Rewards for Maritime Whistleblowers

Whistleblowers who come forward with violations of MARPOL can collect up to 50% of monetary penalties received by the government as reward money. The introduction of whistleblower rewards was first seen in 2008 when it came into effect under Section 1908, which states “a person that knowingly violates any law or regulation imposed under MARPOL” will be fined between 1/2 and full penalty amount.

From 1993 to 2017, whistleblowers were responsible for 76% of all successful cases. Court records show that the sum of all these cases is approximately $33 million. The average reward granted to whistleblowers who successfully prosecute violators under the APPS was 28.8% of the total amount the government could collect. In USA v Omi Corporation, the largest amount paid to an individual whistleblower was registered, with an award close to $2,100,000. The most significant amount ever paid to a group of whistleblowers under the APPS was $5,250,000.

Conditions of Whistleblowing on MARPOL Violations

It is essential to establish that whistleblowers do not need to be U.S. citizens to receive a reward. A considerable portion of the prosecutions come from other countries, including the Philippines, Greece, and Venezuela. Also, this Act applies to all types of U.S.-flagged ships and any non-U.S. vessels operating within American waters or ports under its jurisdiction.

The U.S. Coast Guard and Environmental Protection Agency are the primary enforcers of MARPOL and the APPS within the country. They are often the ones to inspect and investigate actions if a violation is detected. Dumping ship waste, oil-based pollutants, and other harmful liquids identified in the various MARPOL Annexes are the primary violations of the APPS.

Other violations are:

  • ship discharges above the permitted level of oily water;
  • unauthorized alteration to the piping arrangements in the engine room;
  • emissions of certain air pollutants;
  • dumping of plastics and garbage;
  • disabling or interfering with monitoring systems;
  • the disposal of certain pollutants in “special areas” or within a certain distance from land;
  • keeping a false “oil record book” of all relevant discharges and failing to record illegal discharges that have taken place; and
  • concealing, falsifying, or lying about known pollution.

The penalties for noncompliance under the APPS are significant. If a vessel owner or operator commits violations, they can face up to $25K in fines per violation and civil penalty payments from $100k-$500k on average, but some cases have seen higher amounts. Often, when violators of the APPS are required to pay fines, courts also order a portion of the penalties to be used for beneficial purposes in fighting ocean pollution. Organizations that have received monies include the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center, the National Park Foundation, and the Arctic Research Consortium of the U.S.

Contact Our MARPOL Violation Lawyers 

If you have information about a violation of MARPOL or the APPS, please contact our firm. We are committed to fighting for justice on behalf of whistleblowers and helping our clients navigate these complex legal waters. Together we can make sure that polluters are held accountable for their actions and that our oceans remain clean and healthy for generations to come. 

Your information could be vital to stopping future violations. Our experienced maritime whistleblower attorneys are ready to evaluate your case for free. Call (800) 689-8552 or contact us online.